|August 03, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 16|
OSHA has posted a fully updated version of its guide to all agency training requirements to help employers, safety and health professionals, training directors and others comply with the law and keep workers safe. Training Requirements in OSHA Standards organizes the training requirements into five categories: General Industry, Maritime, Construction, Agriculture and Federal Employee Programs.
The safety and health training requirements in OSHA standards have prevented countless workplace tragedies by ensuring that workers have the required skills and knowledge to safely do their work. These requirements reflect OSHA's belief that training is an essential part of every employer's safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses. For a list of educational materials available from OSHA, please visit the Publications webpage.
An employee nearly buried by the collapse of an 8-foot trench survived thanks to the quick action of co-workers, who dug him out with their bare hands. Moments after his escape, the unprotected trench collapsed again. His employer, Houston-based Hassell Construction Co., knew the excavation site was dangerous, but failed to protect its workers. "It is absolutely unacceptable that employers continue to endanger the lives of workers in trenches," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. OSHA cited Hassell Construction for 16 safety violations including six egregious willful violations, fined the company $423,900, and placed it in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. For more information, read the news release.
A worker supplied by a temporary agency was so concerned about working on the roof of a building, he asked for a safety harness. But he was denied. Later that day, he fell through the roof 12 feet to the ground, and was hospitalized with fractured arms and severe contusions. Cotton Commercial USA in Katy, Texas, then waited three days to report the injury, a violation of the requirement to report the hospitalization of an employee within 24 hours. Cotton Commercial was fined $362,500 for seven violations, including the willful failure to report. Gardia Construction, which provided the worker to Cotton Commercial, was fined $4,900 for failing to conduct regular inspections of the job sites where its laborers worked. "It shouldn't have to take a serious injury for a company to comply with the law," said OSHA Regional Administrator John Hermanson. Read the news release for more information.
Ashley Furniture, which received $1.7 million in fines from OSHA this past February, violated the law by failing to report the amputation of a worker's finger in March. For willfully neglecting to report the hospitalization within 24 hours and failing to protect workers from operating parts of machinery, as well as other violations, OSHA issued the company citations with fines totaling $83,200. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program earlier this year. "Workers at Ashley Furniture cannot count on their company to do what's right when it comes to safety," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "These workers are at risk because this company is intentionally and willfully disregarding OSHA standards and requirements." For more information, read the news release.
OSHA has issued instructions to compliance safety and health officers on how to ensure consistent enforcement of the revised Hazard Communication standard. This instruction outlines the revisions to the standard, such as the revised hazard classification of chemicals, standardizing label elements for containers of hazardous chemicals, and specifying the format and required content for safety data sheets. It explains how the revised standard is to be enforced during its transition period and after the standard is fully implemented on June 1, 2016.
OSHA revised the standard in March 2012 to align with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The revised standard improves the quality, consistency and clarity of chemical hazard information that workers receive.
Under the standard, employers were required to train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheets by Dec. 1, 2013. Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors had to comply with revised safety data sheet requirements by June 1, 2015. Manufacturers and importers had to comply with new labeling provisions by June 1, 2015. Distributors have until Dec. 1, 2015, to comply with labeling provisions as long as they are not relabeling materials or creating safety data sheets, in which case they must comply with the June 1 deadline.
Additional information on the revised Hazard Communication Standard may be found on OSHA's Hazard Communication Safety and Health Topics page.
Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.
OSHA has again ordered Oak Harbor Freight Lines Inc. to stop retaliating against truck drivers who refuse to drive when they feel too ill or fatigued. The order comes after Oak Harbor suspended a commercial truck operator without pay at its Portland, Oregon, terminal after he did not feel well enough to drive. The driver filed a whistleblower complaint, citing violation of safe operating rules under the Surface Transportation Safety Act.
After its investigation, OSHA ordered the trucking company to pay $20,000 in punitive damages to the driver for his suspension. This is the second time the agency has found Oak Harbor retaliated against a truck driver who invoked federal safety rules. Oak Harbor has also failed to comply with OSHA's request that the company change its attendance policy, which currently results in drivers absent due to illness or exhaustion receiving negative notes in their personnel records and facing possible discipline or termination. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the July 29 Federal Register that clarifies an employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness throughout the five-year period during which the employer is required to keep the records.
"Accurate records are not simply paperwork, but have an important, in fact life-saving purpose," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "They will enable employers, employees, researchers and the government to identify and eliminate the most serious workplace hazards - ones that have already caused injuries and illnesses to occur."
OSHA issued this proposed rule to clarify the agency's long-standing position that the duty to record an injury or illness continues for as long as the employer must keep records of the recordable injury or illness. The proposed amendments add no new compliance obligations; the proposal would not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required.
Members of the public can submit written comments on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 27. See the Federal Register notice for submission details.
OSHA's Atlanta East Area Office, Gay Construction Company and the Georgia Tech Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program have formed a Strategic Partnership to protect 2,000 workers during construction of an addition to the Emory University Hospital. The overarching goals of the two-year project include reducing injuries and illnesses, increasing safety and health training, sharing of best work practices and increasing the number employers with safety and health management systems. For more information, see the partnership agreement.
OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office and Georgia Tech have also reached a partnership agreement with Balfour Beatty Construction Co. to protect 100 workers during the two-year construction of 33 Peachtree Place in Atlanta. The project will include building retail space, a seven-story parking garage, and two residential apartment buildings.
In June, Minnesota consultation staff provided OSHA 10-hour training to at-risk youth in the St. Paul area. Forty students from two distinguished programs were trained in OSHA basics to ensure the beginning of a safe and healthy career.
The Gaudalupe Alternative Program of St. Paul is the third largest Youthbuild Program in the nation with 110 students currently enrolled. For the last four years, the GAP Youthbuild Program has served the Karen community, an ethnic minority from Burma, in three career paths: healthcare, IT, and construction.
The UnderConstruction Program provides Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area youths with hands-on experience and exposure to apprenticeship careers in the construction trades. During an eight-week paid experience, students participate in various aspects of carpentry, masonry, block-setting, roofing and siding under the guidance of a construction lead trainer and youth manager.
OSHA has updated a resource to help employers understand how important it is to flush emergency eyewashes to prevent organisms from growing in the stagnant water. Eyewash stations are critical emergency safety equipment intended to lessen the severity of eye injuries from workplace exposure to irritants or biological agents. The Health Effects from Contaminated Water in Eyewash Stations Infosheet provides information about the organisms that can grow in stagnant water, how to prevent them from growing, and how to recognize infection signs and symptoms.
OSHA's new agriculture safety fact sheet on all-terrain vehicles identifies serious hazards and steps farmers can take to protect farm workers from injuries and incidents. ATVs are widely used in various agricultural operations such as gathering livestock, pulling trailers and hauling small loads, or carrying pesticide applicators. This fact sheet provides practical safety measures that employers and supervisors can take to protect vehicle operators from harmful and potentially fatal hazards such as rollovers and collisions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identified 2,090 ATV injuries and 321 ATV fatalities between 2003 and 2011, with three out of five of these deaths occurring in agriculture. For more information, visit OSHA's Agricultural Operations page.
Since its release in 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Ladder Safety app has helped thousands of users set up and use extension ladders more safely to prevent falls. NIOSH recently announced that the app will now include stepladders.
The new stepladder module will be available at the end of this year to help workers use the most common four-legged portable ladders more safely. The new module will be based on the existing ladder safety standards and regulations and will provide easy-to-use, graphic-oriented safety tools, checklists, and guidelines.
With more than 40,000 downloads in the past two years, the NIOSH Ladder Safety app continues to help improve the safety of workers using extension ladders. In addition to its ladder-positioning tool for setting the ladder at the optimal angle, the app contains general ladder safety, inspection and selection guidelines, and related information. The Ladder Safety app is available free, in English or Spanish, for Apple and Android smartphones. Read more on NIOSH's webpage on Fall Injuries Prevention in the Workplace.
Select OSHA publications are available in e-Book format. OSHA e-Books are designed to increase readability on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Available at www.osha.gov/ebooks, the e-Books, in English and other languages, are easily accessible to reach key groups of workers and employers.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. See our latest posts:
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